Now that I have your attention, this is actually a great thing for consumers and business. Over the past 10+ years, cable and phone companies have controlled access to the “Internet”, you know that thing somewhere out there.. The cloud. The reality is that the Internet is simply a group of computers that can connect to each other to exchange data. Typically they are wired within data centers and the fiber and connectivity is provided by Tier 1 providers, AT&T, L3 Communications, etc. These groups exchange data packs freely, often with brokered deals focused on mutually beneficial data transfers. First, there is nothing wrong with this – these networks are extremely expensive to manage and maintain, so if they turn a profit – that is great!
However, I wanted to look at an alternative model for Internet connectivity. The concept started back in the early days of Napster with the concept of P2P or peer-to-peer connectivity. Napster revolutionized the file-sharing model, but they were still leveraging an intermediary to connect to system together. I am not condoning illegal file sharing as the principal for this concept, just using this model as a primer for where we are headed.
Recently at DefCon 2015, ProxyHam was going to be demoed by Ben Cuadill – but was pulled a month before the event. There are rumors flying around about why. Some people are saying the government stepped in to stop his product from hitting the market, others have more sinister views, others have simply said – it actually doesn’t work. However, regardless of where the technology is today – it will kill the Internet tomorrow, and here is how.
Right now I am waiting for an oil change and working at my local Starbucks. I am sitting around at least 20 other people who are working, waiting in line for coffee and just chatting with friends. I can visually count 14 devices; which are likely connected to the Internet. 14! And it took 10 seconds to count them. So here is where we are going to push the envelope a bit… What if, each device was a relay (point to point) for a peer-to-peer network? This would allow me to connect directly to all of these 14+ devices by simply being in the same room. Now, let’s go into the shopping complex – there are likely hundreds of devices – in some cases, they are literally connected already – my iPhone is connected to my MacBook.
The concept of peer to peer and line of site is nothing new – but the concept of using each point as a relay to the next point, then the next, etc… would effectively remove the need for large corporations to maintain these massive networks. This is likely a simple hardware and software solution initially and eventually may be available for purchase at Target or another retail shop. You could plug in a USB device; which now acts as a relay and point of site antenna.
I do not believe this will happen overnight – but this idea has been cooking for sometime and we are on the verge of a technology that will drastically disrupt how we use the Internet. Just view the number of wireless networks you can view under your network preferences. In my case – there are 14 devices connected to my home network. I understand I am likely the extreme case – there are others with more. But now, let’s leverage this system to bounce from point A San Diego, to point B New York. The model can leverage aircraft, existing towers, iPhones, computers, antennas on buildings, etc.
Why this may not work. Let’s be honest here, cable companies and phone companies will do everything to prevent something that cuts back on their profits. We will see reports that this model will cause cancer and ensure that your credit cards will be used to purchase a new flat screen TV. Security and Government aside – another major issue would be the number of required hops to get to the final destination. That could cause major latency issues, which ultimately make the model collapse under the weight of its own size. But isn’t this fun to come up with models that could revolutionize how data moves?
There are currently systems that work similar to this; large antennas that can be installed on your home to have your wifi signal booster in some cases miles. This would take a massive adoption and infrastructure update. Oh, and to keep the data centers happy and “The Cloud”, we still need data hosted somewhere. In fact, I would bet that data consumption increases and the need for storage would increase dramatically! Unless we look at a phase 2 options that creates single file instances, which are shared, based on authorized access. No need to have 10,225,028 files for the same cat meme we have all seen.
For those that are reading this and seeking to complain or chat, you can email me through our contact form. I understand that some of the technology I have mentioned exists in a similar form. But I have yet to see someone talk about this concept directly. I was excited about ProxyHam, I really thought this would be the first iteration of the concept by initially anonymizing data transfer. Like the Series 800 Terminator… even the robots had to start somewhere.